People with non-visible disabilities can now be eligible for a blue badge permit.

Hertfordshire County Council is extending its blue badge scheme, which allows people with disabilities to park closer to their destination, to now cover people who suffer from non-visible disabilities.

The scheme previously granted the permits to people with a physical disability, but now the new criteria accepts people with hidden disabilities, including autism and mental health conditions.

About 2.35 million people in the UK have a blue badge permit due to their physical mobility difficulties or blindness.

Councillor Ralph Sangster, cabinet member for resources at Hertfordshire County Council, said: “It’s really positive that people with mental health and other conditions that aren’t always visible will now be able to access a blue badge.

“We hope that by opening up the blue badge scheme, it will give those who do suffer from non-visible conditions the confidence to get out in their local communities and keep their independence.”

With the new criteria, people with non-visible disabilities must find it difficult to get from their vehicle to their destination.

Additional requirements include either being a constant risk to yourself or other people in traffic or car parks, severely struggling to plan or follow a journey and a lack of awareness and control of actions.

Regularly having intense and overwhelming responses to situations, loss of behavioural control and becoming extremely anxious to open space are other considerations.

Anyone who receives Personal Independence Payments (PIP), an ill health or disability welfare benefit, is also automatically entitled to a badge if the PIP criteria for being unable to undertake a journey as it would cause overwhelming psychological distress, being ten points.

If ten points are not scored, a person with a non-visible disability is still eligible to apply.

While the extended scheme mainly covers non-physical disabilities such as autism and dementia, individual cases can be examined to see if another illness such as terminal cancer has an impact on an individual's ability.

Badges are sent out within six weeks of applying for the scheme. If further assessment is required beforehand, then it may take eight weeks in total.